For many people working in offices, bypassing firewalls and accessing blocked content — “non-work-appropriate” sites like YouTube, social-media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — is a problem. The same is true for those connected to public wi-fi networks, like at college campuses. Fortunately, there are virtual private networks (VPNs) that allow people to browse the Internet, and use apps that require a network connection, on a public network as if they were connected to private home wi-fi. With these VPNs, the connection is typically a bit speedier and there are no ad-tracking cookies (so browsing is more incognito). While VPNs are nothing new, many either charge a subscription fee or push their own ads, or both. Not Opera VPN.
Launched today, Opera VPN is a free and unlimited iOS app that allows users to browse their way around firewalls when connected to restricted networks. The app takes about 30 seconds to set up, shows you key stats (e.g., the number of ads and trackers blocked in the past seven days) and even promises to improve your mobile browsing speed.
The app also allows users to pick from five virtual locations (the US, Canada, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands) that they can route their Internet through. So if you want to check Facebook and Twitter in places with national firewalls — like China and Saudi Arabia — you can. It’s also ideal for watching Netflix abroad or streaming sporting events on your phone.
Note that Opera VPN is still a mobile app, so it won’t allow you change your Facebook status on your desktop. But that’ll come; in April, Opera launched a developer version of its VPN web browser. For now, just be relieved you can browse the web freely and anonymously on your mobile device, at work.